Deep-Space Radiation Could Damage Astronauts' Guts

Space.com | 10/4/2018 | Staff
tanikaki (Posted by) Level 3
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Deep-space missions, to Mars and beyond, could spell trouble for astronauts, according to new research showing that cosmic radiation can damage the digestive tract, stomach and colon.

Spending weeks or months in space can lead to muscle loss, deterioration in cognitive ability and bone formation, and even vision problems for astronauts. As we prepare to send astronauts deeper into space, researchers are investigating how these even-longer journeys will affect the human body.

Radiation - Space - Future - Astronauts - Researchers

To simulate how galactic cosmic radiation in deep space will affect future astronauts, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center studied radiation's impact on the small intestine of mice. Their findings suggest that exposure to a low dose of iron radiation could cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) damage, as well as tumor growth in the stomach and colon, according to the statement.

New work shows how radiation from deep-space travel could harm astronauts' guts.

Radiation - Astronauts - Space - Missions - Tract

It’s important to consider how radiation will impact astronauts on longer space missions because the digestive tract is an important source of immune function in the body. Generally, brand-new cells replace the top layer of cells in our GI tract every three to five days. However, heavy-ion radiation tends to disrupt this process, causing the GI tissue to break down and causing long-term problems, according to the study.

When new cells can't replenish properly, it affects how the human body absorbs nutrients and, as a result, causes abnormal or cancerous tissue growth.

Radiation - Humans - Earth - Planet - Ions

Galactic cosmic radiation doesn't affect humans on Earth, because the planet's magnetosphere protects us. However, heavy ions such as iron and silicon that are found in deep space can damage the human body, because these atoms have a "greater mass compared to no-mass photons such as X-rays and gamma (γ)-rays, [which are] prevalent on Earth, as well as low-mass protons in outer...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
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